Doc's 5 Tips on Drinking Better for Less


Monday, October 17, 2016


Sometimes when a producer is making wine, he/she will discover even before fermentation is complete that the finished product will not possess enough alcohol. As to what qualifies as enough alcohol depends on the grape variety, wine structure/style and winemaker’s taste. So what can be done? Sugar can be added, not to increase the sweetness of the wine, but to provide more food for the yeast to feed on creating more alcohol. This is chaptalization. Only one problem! This process is not allowed everywhere in the world. Generally, cooler regions that don’t get substantial heat units to create enough sugar in the grapes that translate into potential alcohol are allowed, but even in some of these, it is forbidden.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Green Wine

“Green wine” is one infused with marijuana and the only place it seems to be commercially available (with a medical marijuana card) is, you guessed it, California. Surprise, surprise! It’s actually been around a long time and its modern version came about in the late ‘70s. It’s meticulously made from organically grown marijuana and biodynamically farmed grapes and tends to be more pungent than potent because higher fermentation temperatures don’t release THC, the active “high” ingredient of pot. The result is a mellow physical feeling as opposed to a mental buzz, one that is apparently effective as a stress reliever, mood elevator and medicine. And the price - anywhere from $120 to $400 a half-bottle!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hosting a Wine Tasting at Home

Choose a part of your home that is free of traffic and extraneous smells. Limit the number of people to 6 -8 and ask them not to wear perfume or aftershave. Focus on a country, region, style, varietal, or vintage. Taste only about 6 wines. Mask the wines, maybe in paper bags with numbers on them. Use at least 2 glasses or more. Keep pours at around 2 ounzes each. Provide spittoons; water and crackers, bread sticks or bread for cleaning the palate, and paper and pencils for making notes. Afterward, discuss the wines tasted and compare notes. Remember, this is a tasting, so don’t swallow. After the formal tasting portion, you can party on down and drink some wine and nibble food. Be responsible and most importantly, have fun.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Aging Wine Under the Sea

The discovery of intact wine found on sunken ships after many years has led some producers to experiment with aging it under the sea. Aside from space limitations at the winery, they believe that the oceanic factors of consistent temperature, lack of light, relative lack of oxygen, underwater pressure, and tidal movement will affect their wines interestingly. Some age finished bottles (with both cork closures and crown caps), others, barrels. Results vary from wines maturing quicker; having more complexity; being fresher with more tannin; and having more, earthy, saline notes. The extra work involved makes these wines much more expensive. So is it a gimmick or a worthwhile venture? I guess only time will tell.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Social Aspect of Wine

Why is wine such a social drink? Aside from the obvious aspect of promoting relaxation, there are several reasons. One could argue that these apply to most alcoholic drinks, but not as much as to wine. This is most likely due to the fact that wine, more than any other alcoholic drink, is usually consumed with food and breaking bread with others is a very, special, social phenomenon. Sipping with others like this allows for social interaction, promotes conviviality building and strengthening interpersonal bonds and connections between people that endure. It breaks down barriers allowing communication between those of different cultures, races and social status. Generally, it implies friendship, generosity and the joy of sharing something.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant

Ordering wine in a restaurant can be intimidating. Here are some helpful hints. Decide on what you want to eat first before selecting a wine match. If you’re the only one in your party drinking wine or plan to have only a couple glasses, don’t order a bottle. Order by the glass instead. Avoid ordering the “house wine” as it usually has the highest mark-up and, most of the time, is mediocre. You are better to “drink up”, spending a few more dollars delivering a better sip and more value. Don’t order wine that is extremely alcoholic, overly oaky or too tannic as it will overpower the taste of the food. Finally, don’t be shy about asking the wait staff or sommelier for suggestions and guidance.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Celebrity-Owned Wineries

What does a movie star, professional athlete, iconic musician or other celebrity do when they have more money than they know what to do with? They invest in a winery, of course. The majority of celebs who do this enjoy wine, but don’t make the wine or run the winery. They’re merely looking for a tax write off and something else to display and extend their brand. Actors like Dan Aykroyd, Antonio Banderas, Emilio Estevez and many others have done so. Professional athletes such as Mike Ditka, Ernie Els, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Weir and Jo Montana have taken the plunge. Musicians, the likes of Mick Fleetwood, Madonna, Dave Maththews and Olivia Newton-John own wineries. Even Donald Trump has one in Virginia.